Eating Greeneville

Farming, bartering and foraging for meals in East Tennessee.

Stuck in the Middle with Miso and Chicories.

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Miso en place. (see what I did there?)

Miso en place. (see what I did there?)

It’s inevitable, you overdid it around Thanksgiving.  You are possibly PRE-regretting the overabundance of Christmas and New Years Eve.  No worries, even though it might be wrong to say that you can detox when it’s all over, you can still do your body right, right now.  Traditionally you will find wakame seaweed and tofu floating around in your miso soup but I find comfort in my own version of “local” miso every winter.  This one includes fennel, carrots, kale, onion and herbs from the farm.

First of all let’s talk about soy.  The GMO and unfermented version of soy that has been linked to digestive distress, higher risk of cancer and heart disease and reproductive health issues  in men and women is what you are generally looking to avoid.  This is why I don’t use tofu in my miso, I just don’t do tofu.  Beneficially bacteria found in fermented foods can be of great service to your digestive system and the microflora associated with fermented foods create vitamins and minerals your body craves to stay strong.  Benefits of miso itself include protection from radiation, antiviral, immune strengthening, and anti-aging (linoleic acid for your skin).  What are you waiting for!?  Get some miso in your life.

Seasonal Miso Soup

4 cups water

1/4 cup bonito flakes *

1 sheet of kombu *

1 sprig of thyme

1 small onion, diced small

1 small bulb fennel, diced small

1/2 cup carrots cut into bite sized rounds

1 cup kale, chiffonade

1/8- 1/4 cup white miso paste (organic, NON GMO)

Fill a small soup pot with water and add bonito flakes and kombu.  Bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.  Strain the bonito and kombu from the water  Add the thyme, onion, carrots, fennel and kale.  Bring to a simmer and slowly and lowly simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.  At this point you will want to incorporate your miso paste.  Using a ladle, remove some of the hot soup into a soup bowl with the mix, lightly whisk it together and pour the incorporated soup/miso mix back into the pot.  Be careful to not boil after this point since miso loses much of it’s benefits after it is boiled.

* If you live in one of those towns where you just cannot find bonito flakes or kombu (trust me, they exist, I’ve lived there) these things can be ordered from the internet.

What is the perfect accompaniment to your deliciously warm and soothing miso soup?  A winter salad of lettuces and chicories of course.

Radicchio di Castelfranco

Radicchio di Castelfranco

Remember the fragile, delicate greens of the summer?  Those wimps are gone.  Cooler weather brings strong, vibrant greens to the table, the kind I would much rather munch on,the kind with some bite.  Chicories are high in vitamin K and claim to be excellent blood purifiers.  If you are expecting the neutral and slightly sweet taste of lettuce you will be very surprised.  Chicories are loved for their bitter taste.  I find that picking, washing and then letting chicories sit for several hours before dressing and serving them as a salad lessens the initial bitterness of the greens.  I have red radicchio and radicchio di castelfranco which is a speckled type radicchio coming out of the garden right now.  The bitterness of these greens works well with assertive ingredients (think:  roasted garlic, anchovies, citrus).  I add toasted sesame oil to my chicory salad to lend more Asian flavors to my miso meal.

Chicories with Toasted Sesame Buttermilk Dressing

Mixed Chicories/Greens (personal favorites include castelfranco, pan di zucchero and trevio)

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon mustard

2 tablespoons honey (or more to taste, I like a slightly sweet dressing)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon mashed roasted garlic

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar



1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup grape seed oil

In a bowl mix mustard, honey, lemon, garlic and vinegar.  Whisk together.  Whisk in buttermilk.  Slowly whisk in toasted sesame oi and grape seed oil to emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste

Toasted sesame seeds and shaved fennel are excellent additions to this salad.

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